Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Future Food Crisis

Pakistan is an agricultural country where the majority of the population depends upon farming for a livelihood. The agricultural sector accounts for 24 percent of our GDP. 27 percent of our land is under cultivation out of which 80 percent is irrigated. However, lack of sustainable development in the agricultural sector will never make us self sufficient in food production to meet the needs of our rapidly increasing population. We often say, it’s all because of poor policy implementation and lack of proper planning. To some extent this is true, however the way our world eco-system is changing and affecting different regions, including South Asia, is another reason that is increasing our problems manifolds. One of the challenges our country will face in the coming two to three decades will be a severe food crisis.

Food production majorly depends upon availability of water and a suitable environment. According to a study by the Water and Power Development Authority, water resources in the country have declined alarmingly as our population continues to increase in past decade. We must recall the severe drought in 1999-2000, which significantly changed the underground water table. UNDP, in one of its findings say that fresh water availability per person in Pakistan has declined to 20 percent of what of what was available 50 years before.

We have one of the best irrigation systems in Pakistan, connecting five rivers with a well-distributed canal system that irrigates our agricultural lands. However, with the passage of time our rivers have started drying up. Pakistan receives about 59 percent of rainwater from the monsoon season. However, changes in the earth’s ecosystem due to global warming are shifting the monsoon season from this region. We can now clearly observe that rain in Pakistan is not on time.

Crop production, according to the metrological department, have increased in recent years, however in the long term, production will go down as water shortage will ultimately affect food production. We have already observed that massive floods during the past two years destroyed crops over millions of acres of land. Water shortage in the long term, together with heavy downpours and massive flooding that may occur in the coming years will continue to destroy our food production capacity.

Further scientific evidence proves that changes in the earth ecosystem will trigger heavy downpours and long term drought simultaneously. This will pose challenges to our food production. According to the earth hydrological cycle, evaporation causes rain which causes water to go back into the sea, and the cycle continues. Due to global environmental pollution, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, the average temperature of the ocean is also increasing. As the temperature increases, the oceans evaporate more moisture into the sky. Science proves that warmer air can hold a lot of more water vapor, and with each additional degree of temperature, the capacity of the atmosphere to hold water vapor increases by 7 percent. During the last 30 years, water vapors over the oceans have already increased by 4 percent. That’s why rainstorms are now getting bigger, more intense and causing floods.

As the global temperature continues to increase, the earth water cycle gets intensified and there become longer intervals in drought stricken areas between downpours. Water evaporates from the soil more rapidly and makes droughts deeper.

Scientists believe that the two massive floods of Pakistan correlate with the impacts of global warming. Similarly, future trends of water shortage and increasing droughts in many regions, including South Asia will further impact our food production leading to an additional price hike.
Recent studies from UNICEF should alarm our government where people in Sindh are suffering from high malnutrition that is beyond the emergency level and in an even worst situation from many areas in Africa. If our government does not take appropriate adaptation measures and treat this crisis as an emergency, we will be on our way to severe food shortage all over Pakistan.


The blog was originally published in The News International.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Political landscape of the UN Climate talks in Durban and our future

This blog was originally featured on Express Pakistan.


Durban talks are heating up as the UN conference on Climate Change get closure to its conclusion. Ministers are already in the conference and taking over the negotiations to review different proposals on how to tackle climate crisis. Different groups are trying to convince Conference of Parties, keeping in view both the climate and economic crisis. However, due to clear differences in political opinions of certain countries like America, European Union, China and India, a new agreement to replace Kyoto protocol, which will expire next year, seems unlikely.


Kyoto protocol (2008-12) is the only binding agreement in place that set targets for 37 industrial countries and European community to reduce greenhouse gases from the use of industries and burning of fossil fuel. However, America never signed this protocol and always opposed such proposals which do not bind emerging economies like China, Brazil and India on emission reduction. China and India, on the other tells different story and justify their opinion that they have no history of polluting the world environment and cannot be bound equally with America or Europe. China has recently become the biggest carbon emitter in the world. However countries like China, Brazil and India strongly disagree with America and even argue that they should not be asked to enter into such binding agreement until year 2020. They hold industrial countries being responsible for changing the world climate due their long history of carbon pollution.


China, Brazil and India claim that their emerging economies are still standing at early stages to support millions of poor families. America, however think differently than China that global carbon emission has now no boundaries and that emerging economies are now also significantly contributing in global carbon emission. The fights continue with the argument of China as it presents quite responsive environment friendly policy that practically promotes growth of renewable energies in the country.


This lack of climate consensus not only prevails between countries like America and China but also among China, G77 and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), mostly from Africa. LDCs consider their position an extremely vulnerable and totally reject the claims of countries like America and China during the Durban talks. According to LDCs, delay in climate action and reach binding agreement will put those vulnerable countries in worst situation. Such group proposes that delay in agreement till 2020 will make climate change irreversible as supported by climate science. In fact, LDCs advocate that average global temperature should not exceed 1.5 degree C, rather than 2 degree C which America, China, South Africa and India agreed during their so-called Copenhagen accord in 2009.


Agreement on Green Climate Fund (GCF) is another important agenda in the Durban conference. During the 2009 Copenhagen conference, member countries agreed to establish GCF fund with the starting amount of $3 billion per year from 2012 and raise it up to $100 billion per year by 2020. This proposed fund will support poor, developing countries to build their resilience and adapt to climate change. However, GCF is still not functionalized. Pakistan during the Durban conference is actively advocating for the establishment of GCF and its distribution mechanism for poor countries. The LDCs are also demanding that rich countries should not drag money from the already pledged development funds in order to mobilize resources for GCF.


Despite all these different political arguments in Durban talks, science is however, very clear in explaining the consequences of changing climate if world leadership delays binding agreements on climate change. We are already witnessing disasters likes flooding in Pakistan and Australia, heat wave in Russia, cyclones in Philippine and severe drought in China. International Energy Agency (IEA) even warns a week ahead of Durban conference that if the world does not control global carbon emission, impacts of climate change will become irreversible in coming five years. The consequences will be more frequent and disastrous weather extremes, diseases and deaths. In fact science should drive the UN Climate Change conference, rather than the politics. We are accountable to our future generation who will ask us what we did with our planet and what we left for them.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The UN Conference on Climate Change in Durban

This article was originally published on The News International and Geo.tv

The United Nations Climate Change Conference that commenced day before yesterday in Durban, South Africa is scheduled to continue on till December 9, 2011. The conference holds much importance, seeing as a number of countries, including Pakistan, have recently faced extreme weather conditions which have disrupted the lives of millions of people across the globe. Pakistan has been victim to two recent climate catastrophes: the massive floods of 2010 and 2011 that impacted about 25 million people. Although weather related disasters have significantly increased in different parts of the world, it is unfortunate to note that the Durban conference is unlikely to reach any binding agreement due to the absence of strong political will. This situation is particularly alarming for the countries that are at the mercy of climate change. Many countries, including Pakistan, simply can’t afford any further delay in reaching a binding agreement amongst nations of the world to stop global warming.

Science is very clear in explaining the impact and cost that we will bear if world politics does not take concrete action to fight global warming. Ignoring the burning of fossil fuels, allowing industrial pollution and leaving deforestation unchecked is making the world a dangerous place to live in. We are already witnessing floods, rising sea levels, droughts and diseases due to global warming. The role of developing countries thus, becomes very vital during the two week negotiations taking place in Durban. Furthermore, it is very important that Pakistan also supports the new slogan emerging from pro-environment groups that: science, rather than politics should lead the conference.

We have observed during past UN conferences (such as those in Copenhagen and Cancun) that both the developed and developing nations failed to reach binding agreements. These conferences have always remained under the political influence of a few powerful nations that refuse to recognize the vulnerabilities of poor countries as a result of climate change. Representatives from developing nations can really make a difference in these negotiations. Recall the historic words from the representative of Tuvalu (the fourth smallest country in the world), who very boldly rejected the Copenhagen non-binding agreement. Representatives such as these give other developing nations the courage to stand up for themselves.

Following suit, Pakistan should play a stronger role in influencing the conference by demonstrating the same courageous attitude which Tuvalu showed during the Copenhagen conference in 2009. Pakistan has to take many steps on its part and to be honest we are not fully prepared, as we lack measures at a core national level. The truth is we have to go beyond the measure of just passing our recent National Climate Change Policy by the cabinet. We need not only participate in such conferences, but also need to make climate change our key priority and take practical steps to prove it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Educating common people in Pakistan on Global Warming and its solutions

Common people in Pakistan are often unaware of science behind the occurrence of extreme weather events such as heavy floods or heat waves. In developed nations, where people now demand from their governments to take action on global warming, our people in Pakistan usually consider such extreme events as their fate, rather than the impacts of climate change. Interestingly, after the two massive flooding in less than one year in Pakistan, thinking of people in Pakistan is now changing. Their thoughts are now going beyond the belief that this is not only their fate or anger of God. Global warming is the word which is getting common in our discussions. However, it is very important that a common person fully understand what global warming is and how can we find solutions to fight with its impacts. It is also important to educate our people, particularly women, on global warming science and its solution as we are among most vulnerable nations in the world who are suffering from the climate catastrophes even more than before.

Our earth is surrounded by layers of different greenhouse gases, which we call atmosphere. The molecules of greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide have the ability to trap heat which comes from sun.  As our sun is the main source of energy, most of its heat is absorb by our earth. The heat waves reflected by earth are then trapped by the molecule of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This natural system in fact helps maintaining sufficient amount of heat on earth which is required for survival of life. However, due to increase in human activities on earth like burning of fossil fuel, industrialization, transportation and deforestation, we are now producing more greenhouse gases and emitting them into atmosphere.  With more concentration of greenhouse gases into atmosphere, the ability of trapping heat by atmosphere has increased, particularly after the industrial revolution which is resulting into increase in temperature of our earth. This human induced change in earth temperature is called global warming which continues to change our climate abnormally e.g. increase in earth’ average temperature, increase in number of precipitation days or decrease in average rainfall.

According to scientists, safe limit for concentration of greenhouse gases in atmosphere is 350 parts per million (ppm), however due to the factors like rapid industrialization, massive deforestation etc, this concentration has already reached to the level of 390 ppm. Scientists also believe that it is important to keep the concentration of greenhouse gases at 350 ppm to avert the chances of increase in average global temperature above 2 degree Celsius. However the way, our world is emitting greenhouse gases like CO2, scientists carefully forecast that earth temperature may go beyond 4 degree Celsius which will dramatically change our earth eco-system and increase both the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like the Pakistan floods in 2010 and 2011 or the heat wave of Russia in 2010. Due to global warming, our oceans are getting warmer and have in fact, increased the process of forming water vapors over oceans. Science proves that warmer air can hold more water vapors. Thus more concentration of water vapors over oceans are now resulting into heavy downpours and flooding in different parts of the world. Increase in temperature also result into heat waves and wind storms.

In Northern Pakistan, our precious glaciers resources are rapidly melting due to global warming. Not only this but also global warming has increased sea level and swept away number of villages in our coastal areas of Sindh and Baluchistan. Scientists also believe that the human induced climate change is shifting our monsoon season, which in fact give us nearly 60% of rain water. We are clearly observing that rains are either not on time or they happens all at once and create flash floods like we faced in 2010 and 2011 floods. We also observe that winter days are now getting shorter and summer days are getting longer. It is not good to know either that, according to scientists, Pakistan will face severe water shortage and decrease in crops production in coming 30 years due to global warming. It means we have to get ready for the big challenge of food insecurity in coming decades. Heat waves and flooding have also increased different water and other environment related diseases.

Pakistan has although very negligible contribution in global environmental pollution, still we are among the most vulnerable countries impacted by global warming. It is although a global issue however, for us it is important that need for effective advocacy by our government in different international forums, particularly in the forthcoming UN conference in Durban, South Africa, we start exploring ranges of local and regional level solutions to fight global warming. Here are some of the solutions we can adopt in our rural and urban communities in Pakistan;

First important step is to save every drop of water. We can use innovative water conservation methods. One of the ways is roof water harvesting to collect rainwater rather than wasting them without any use. People can construct rainwater ponds easily to store rainwater. Similarly, by repairing water taps and joints, we can save lot of water from leakage. People using washrooms, particularly in cities, can save good quantity of water by a simple behavioral change i.e. using water pans rather than showers. Adjusting toilet flush with a simple flush water reducer can also help protect water from wastage.

We should educate our people to plant trees in all possible free land or space in and around homes, schools and our fields. Due to massive deforestation, we faced more catastrophes during the 2010 flooding. We have less than 5% forest cover in Pakistan and our forest depletion is top in the entire world. Planting trees can help in many ways like protection from floods and landslides, improve air quality, provide shades to protect from heat and improve underground water table. In addition to planting trees, we can avoid using different chemicals and use organic fertilizers to improve our lands fertility and increase food production. We can grow fruit plants and vegetables along with seasonal crops. Using different techniques like construction of check dams, gabion walls and planting trees can protect our agricultural land from erosion. We can learn and encourage multi-cropping techniques and promote ideas like floating gardens in flood affected areas to cope with extremes weathers and improve livelihoods.

Using different alternate and renewable energy resources, we will not only contribute in achieving clean energy targets but also help in overcoming issues like electricity crisis or dependency on forests for fuel and heating. Community based micro-hydal power plants, fuel efficient stoves, wind farms and solar energy are number of good options available for us in Pakistan.

We can promote eco-friendly and safe constructions. We should avoid construction in locations exposed to flooding or landslide and construct in a way which can maximum use daylight instead of electricity. Roofs with white coated sheets can help in reducing heat inside home during hot summer. We can also reduce our electricity bills at home or work by number of simple ways, particularly in cities. Use air-conditions as less as possible. By keeping AC unit at north side of home, people can protect it from direct sunlight, along with plants trees and shrubs around AC unit to keep it cool. Keep thermostat at 26 degree C. Open drapes, curtains and blinds open at evening time to escape heat from home. Use daylight during work and wear weather appropriate dresses rather than using air conditioners or heaters. Turn off electric appliances when they are not in use. Use fans in room and exhaust fans in kitchen to escape hot air. Equipments on standby still use 90% of energy. Turn off unnecessary lights and use energy savers.

We can also promote simple practices like buying items in large size packing rather than small packs. Before buying or using anything, first think do you really need it. Avoid plastic bags and encourage reusable canvas bags for shopping. Use kitchen waste for compost making and separately keep different waste items likes plastic, papers and iron waste to make it easy for recycling rather than throwing them off. Use recycled papers which use half the water than the new paper. Explore and contact recycling companies and send old/used equipments to recycle. Make less use of papers, be online or print on double side. Print drafts on scrap papers. Be creative in using old things for household use e.g. use plastic cans for food storage or roof gardening. We can also contribute in clean environment by using public transport or even bicycle rather than running cars. If cars are necessary to use then make sure car are fuel efficient by their proper tuning.

And finally we need to speak up. Global warming is a global issue which doesn’t see boundaries but impacts all of us. We need to join campaigns and raise voices at community, business and government level to motivate them and play their role to fight the issue of global warming.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Walking together

About 6:30am, in the beautiful morning of October 20th, when our plane touched the land of Melbourne, I was trying to reunite myself with the past two years. A two years life which echoes short but matter a lot to me- to get closer to nature, to think of people, to realize mistakes and to overcome challenges which I often thought being difficult…

And this is the journey I started with The Climate Reality Project having a family of very special presenters who are part of my life.

My journey started exactly from the same Melbourne I came during in the 2009 winter of Australia. I found many things changed- perhaps to make myself more real to life. I came to Australia second time and this time weather of Melbourne of mix of unpredictable days- didn’t know about every coming days; would it be hot, cold or sunshine to feel the warmth of Melbourne’ love?

“So how is the weather of Melbourne”? This was the most difficult question that I couldn’t respond to my sister talking to me on phone. “The morning I was late to wake up and expected for sunshine, I rushed out to catch my friends for a field trip while wearing T shirt and then realized it is going to be a cold day” I managed it anyway as I belong to an area in Pakistan where winters are even more cold. I am not talking about our pleasant summers in the northern Pakistan which are getting more hotter!

Another 18 hours of long flight of my life to Melbourne which never made me worried about. By the way of care, thanks to TCRP who invited us couple of days ahead to the leadership congress to recover from the long travel and two nights wake up! Much of the relaxation regained as we, a group of presenters, walked with the Birrung River in slow pours of rain. And of course It was such a wonderful experience while going back to the history of Melbourne to know all about the indigenous people of Australia. An imagination from waterfall of old Birrung River to the 1889 Queen’s Bridge over the Yaara River made me realize the importance of nature and care for people.

The next morning we the presenters from Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Fiji walked towards the old warden’ lodge in the beautiful Trinity college of Melbourne. It was a memorable reunion with our fellow presenters where we had a lot to share and learn from each other experiences and inspiring stories. A diverse group of 65 presenters who belonged to different cultures and colors of life and sharing number of common values. The most amazing aspect that I could realize was the achievement of The Climate Reality Project who, since 2006 has successfully transformed lives of many dedicated individuals to talk a single language of care and love- for our environment, for our people and for our planet. Revising my personal journey from 2009 to 2011 with TCRP, I realized a change in myself- perhaps now I can say I got the courage and knowledge to  lead and to advocate on climate crisis on behalf of my own people.

I think myself fortunate that I belong to the family of TCRP presenters. I had never thought of such a wonderful group of friends who belongs to different culture and religion but their individual expertise in the field of climate change makes them unique. During my three days learning from each and every fellow presenter, I felt myself even more powerful and informed. TCRP made it possible to connect individual strengths into common values of true friendship which will never end despite of distances. I learnt from the two “personal stories of change” from my fellow presenters from Pakistan and Australia that being bold or energetic in life do not always matter but being not afraid of doing things and a will of sharing power of knowledge with each other matters a lot.

The family of TCRP inspires me think differently and in many ways. I realize that many things in life are interconnected but not interdependent. I also realize in this journey that leadership skills and better communication doesn’t affect by differences in thoughts and culture while working on some big issue like climate change. Only love and care bring us all together on a single point where we can collectively think and can make it sure for change. I realize our people belonging to different thoughts and culture still love each other. Thinking about the issue of climate change and need for its solution, I realize it is so important to create such opportunities for youth and other people from different region to get together and share thoughts with each other. And this is what TCRP did successfully during the congress where presenters from the Asia-pacific region got to know many positive and inspiring stories ranging from the conservative societies of Balochistan province in Pakistan to the much developed part of the world Melbourne. I simply realized that distance may lead to differences in thoughts but coming together and talking on hard issue can make a way towards solutions.

Al Gore has been always an inspiration to me. He is kind of man I can proudly, and to be honest more easily, talk about even if I am among my conservative group of people and society in Pakistan. Having lots of complexities in the political landscape in our region where countries politics like between America and Pakistan currently seems in different directions, we however we get a person like Mr. Gore who being an American amazingly talk and care for our people. The main reason, as I realize, behind his care is to go beyond the limited circle of thinking and giving priority to the people suffering first. That’s why I felt so much proud when I got the opportunity to become part of the 24 Hours of Reality campaign representing Islamabad. I felt much excited when Mr. Gore in his phone catch-up during the congress called “Asif Iqbal from Pakistan”, however I feel much excited when I am able to get confidence of our people that still we can stand together with people of different culture and region on a common issue like climate change.


TCRP celebrations brought a lot to us. We could found something common as “green” in different getups- a green shirt, a green cap, a green sari or a green dopata (scarf). This was much to feel how beautiful our friends are and how much common values they hold for each other. I learnt we can never lose hope in many ways. One of the powerful ways I could learn was to find God in people hearts, in their smiles, in a beauty of nature and in the warm hug of a father. I learnt I can find myself and my wealth if I find God in many ways to come out of disappointments. I simply felt relaxed.

I had an amazing experience to listen to the thoughts of Paul Hawkens during the congress. I realized that apparently difficult things can be easy to know in life. Everything matters in life no matter if they are so tiny like a single cell of our body. We can find many ways to reconnect to people and nature to solve problems like of climate change. Sharing many values, perhaps it became easy for us to work together and identify key aspects of our common strategy to work together in 2012 and ahead to solve climate crisis.

I found many similarities in things which looks different to the world and which gave me this feeling that we can still walk together to solve our problems. I remember chatting with my fellow presenter and district manager Marita Manley from Fiji while traveling in bus to the community wind farm in central Victoria. I could never believe that both Marita and myself belonging to entirely different regions and cultures infact got similarities in our childhood problems as we grew up and entered into challenges of working life. Sitting together in the beautiful bus with our fellow presenters, I thought we are not only going together to the wind farm in central Victoria but also walking together on a similar way of life where we share common values and common issues to work upon. It is same like the fog which surrounds the wind farm in Victoria is also similar with the fog of my own area Nathiagali in Pakistan.

And finally I count the most precious words and support from the TCRP team especially from Angela, Don Henry, Aditya, Amanda, Mel, Adam and many of our fellow presenters who walked together with us in the path we all have adopted together. I think the first step that I took in 2009 from the cold winter of Melbourne was the perfect start. The Leadership congress is of course a milestone in this journey of change and inspirations. A special thanks to Ausaid for supporting us to participate in this great re-union and learning which, I personally think, significantly contributed in making many of us grass root level leaders to create change.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

After 24 Hours of Reality

I am proud to be personally trained by honorable Al Gore which enabled me to present live during the 24 Hours of Reality from Islamabad. On September 14th & 15th, we together with Al Gore, give a message to the world about reality of climate crisis. However this was not the end of message. We need to continue and spread the word. In less than a year time, Pakistan faced another big catastrophe. More than 5 million Pakistani, half of them children, are affected in aftermath of heavy monsoon rains. Last year, it was almost more than 20 million. I reiterate my moral responsibility, commit to talk about climate crisis and present this reality to the most I can reach. I restarted this commitment by organizing a post 24 Hours of Reality group watch party in Islamabad. We need everyone to be part of this campaign and tell the world how human made global carbon emission is changing the world. Ask those who deny and invite them to see what is happening right now in our beautiful province of Sindh due to heavy rains. We need to spread the word and motivate everyone for action.








Saturday, September 10, 2011

Watch my presentation live on Reality of Climate Crisis


Friends, watch my presentation live on Reality of Climate Crisis this September 15 at 7 pm (Pakistan time). Log on to http://www.ustream.tv/ClimateReality to watch full truth, scope, scale and impact of climate crisis.

Spanning 24 hours, 24 time zones and multiple languages, 24 Hours of Reality features a new multimedia presentation about climate change created by Vice President Gore and delivered by an army of personally trained slide show Presenters from around the world.

Beginning in Mexico City and proceeding westward around the globe, 24 Hours of Reality offers a round-the-clock snapshot of the global climate crisis in real time, sharing unique perspectives on the crisis from Tonga to Cape Verde, Mexico City to Kotzebue, Alaska, Jakarta to London. With one event scheduled in each time zone at 7 p.m. local time, the entire 24 hours will also be streamed live online from start to finish, culminating in a final presentation by Vice President Gore in New York at 7 pm.

Watch all the 24 presentations here: http://climaterealityproject.org/ 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Send us a two-minute video on climate change and show your skills to the world

Friends,
Are you a skilled film maker, by chance got talent in making documentaries or if you know someone among your friends who really loves to capture changes in the eyes of camera. We have something reality exciting for you to show your skills to the world.

Send us a two-minute short video and show how climate change is impacting your community, your city and your surroundings and become a part of 24 Hours of Reality!

The Climate Reality Project (TCRP) is organizing a global event “24 Hours of Reality” to show full truth, scope, scale and impact of climate crisis on September 14-15, 2011. With one event scheduled in each time zone at 7:00PM local time, the entire 24 hours will be streamed live online. One of these live 24 events is also taking place in Islamabad on September 15, 2011.

We are inviting interested individuals and film makers to submit a two-minute short video on impacts of climate change in Pakistan. We will select the best video and show it in our Islamabad event!! You will also get a chance to see your created video in live events happening this September 14-15.

You can post your video on this link by August 30, 2011; http://vimeo.com/groups/climaterealityproject. Any person appearing in your video needs to sign an appearance release. Here is the link to appearance release; forms.climaterealityproject.org/Avrelease. Please email your signed forms to 24hoursofreality@gmail.com when you post your video.


Photo: 123RF

Monday, August 8, 2011

In the midst of nature, life and reality

I live in an area which attracts every one’s eyes, where high mountains gossip with sky, where rivers’ flow gave rhythm to life and where greenery speak about nature. Northern Pakistan- a land of beauty, a blessing of pure nature…

Then why we see floods? Why our lands often sweep away with slides? Why rains become torrent some time? Since my childhood I kept on observing changes but never able to make a point what lies between a natural beauty and a disaster.

And then I leant about climate change. A human made change which affects all of us. A Reality which we need to know. Like our region, this phenomenon affects the poor more, living in least developed area. But the effects of climate change are now everywhere. If flood inundated Pakistan in 2010, London was also not an exception. If drought badly affected Baluchistan province in 1999-2000, then Russians couldn’t also protect themselves from recent record dry spell. If Mohenjodaro city of Pakistan observed 54 degree Celsius last year then Europe also received record snowfall in its living history.

World is observing these changes more significantly then the past. Every country is contributing in these changes. The only difference is that some countries pollute more our atmosphere with their emission of greenhouse gases and many don’t. Those rich countries are however more resilient to cope with the impacts of climate change as compared to the poor. Emission of CO2 is different in every country but the impacts don’t care about any geographical boundaries.

However, what is more important is to know the reality of climate crisis and pave a way of climate justice. And that’s why I am joining Reality this September 15 from Islamabad- a part of global campaign by Al Gore where we 23 voluntary presenters will stand together with Al Gore to raise one common voice. In 24 time zones with 13 different languages, each hour of September 14-15 will show the world full truth, scope, scale and impact of climate crisis.
We simply need you join us and strengthen our voice.

There are number of ways you can play your role;
• ‘Like’ The Climate Reality Project on Facebook and tell your audience to refer friends
• RSVP for the 24 Hours of Reality live stream event on Facebook and suggest others do the same
• Provide your audience with a link to the full Climate Reality event schedule
• Encourage Climate Reality email signups via the signup page on the Climate Reality website
• Start following @ClimateReality on Twitter and ask your followers do the same
• ReTweet our content and/or message us directly @ClimateReality
• Share/tag thoughts about how climate change is affecting your area and ask others to do the same
• Instruct your audience to use #Reality & #[their country] when calling out evidence of climate change
And join us in Pakistan 7pm on September 15, 2011.


Picture: Faisal Shehzad

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We choose REALITY from Islamabad

It's time to speak the truth. It's time to choose the Reality. Join us this September 14 and 15.

Spread the word...
Take action...
And get involved...
All is here to choose: 24 Hours of REALITY
24 Hours of Reality- 24 presenters, 24 time zones, 13 languaes, 1 MESSAGE

“"24 Hours of Reality will focus the world’s attention on the full truth, scope, scale and impact of the climate crisis. To remove the doubt. Reveal the deniers. And catalyze urgency around an issue that affects every one of us" Al Gore”

“What can change in a day? For 24 hours, we will all live in reality.”

“Choose a location and get involved;”

■“*ABU DHABI”
■“AUCKLAND”
■“BEIJING”
■“*BOULDER”
■“CAPE VERDE”
■“*DURBAN”
■“FRENCH POLYNESIA”
■“HAIDA GWAII”
■“HAWAII”
■“HUSAVIK”
■“ILULISSAT”
■“ISTANBUL”
■“JAKARTA”
■“KOTZEBUE”
■“LONDON”
■“MEXICO CITY”
■“NEW DELHI”
■“NEW YORK”
■“*QUEENSLAND”
■“RIO DE JANEIRO”
■“SEOUL”
■“SOLOMON ISLANDS”
■“*TONGA”

And we will be choosing Reality from

ISLAMABAD

Email me on asifoghi@yahoo.com if you want to join us in Islamabad or would like to offer your voluntary support.


Asif
TCP presenter from Pakistan

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Training on climate change, alternate fuel technologies and public narrative skills

With WV colleagues






Public narrative skills- Story of Self, Us and Now!





Identifying story of Self






























Linking story of Self with Us and Now










A break with WV colleagues

















































Presenting your self to influence others






























Getting ready for presentation on climate change








During a session on science of climate change









Presenting income generation opportunities




























How to make enterprises GREEN























Climate change- causes and impacts






Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dreams behind the heat

Beautiful trees of dates… green fields…

Water flowing down in the link canals… historical forts and palaces…

a rich culture… courageous people…

This is Khairpur- one of the beautiful towns in Sindh province of Pakistan.

Belonging to green lush mountainous area, I felt same sense of beauty with my every breath as I moved down to the fields in Khairpur. Small shops on road side, handmade charpai (beds) in front of small hotels and people enjoying tea while sitting together… public buses moving fast on the main road, traveling from Karachi to the KPK province, giving me sense of connection among people from south to north.

Sindh- where I spent my early six years of childhood was perhaps the most inspiring reason of love for the people in Khairpur. I loved spending few hours with the people of Khairpur.

Nature has blessed Khairpur beauty with a different look. This beauty reflects from the plain fields, from the heights of date trees and from the faces of the people of Khairpur.

But what is wrong here, is the chilling heat. It was almost 45˚ C plus in the month of May. I don’t know how bravely these people survive with this temperature. I simply can’t imagine about June and July. Moen-jo-daro is not much far from Khairpur where mercury, last year peaked to the record 54˚ C.

Shikarpur, Khairpur and other parts of the Sindh province were the worst affected areas in aftermath of 2010 massive flooding which inundated almost half of the country’ land under water. As I walked down in the town, I kept on thinking about miseries of the innocent people here.

Although flood water is no more here, but many people are fighting with life’ challenges- a challenge to survive with dignity and a fear of another big flood.

If people in the northern Pakistan only witnessed a deadly flash flooding last year, people in Sindh faced with both the massive flooding and chilling heat. Fighting already with extreme poverty, flooding has further brought more challenges in the lives of families, little girls and boys, who would have always dreamed for an easy live.

Perhaps many of them would not even know what a happy life is…

As the beauty of Khairpur is eternal, dreams of the little children of Khairpur are also beautiful. I felt the sense of this beauty in their innocent eyes. When I saw any child walking on the roads and streets or working in the field, I dared to think about their dreams in this unbearable heat. A beautiful dream sometime behind the bare foot walks…

Perhaps I would not have sensed it in its true sense as I was personally not able to face this extremely hot temperature.

Why this heat and this flooding be the fate of these innocent children and their families. They deserve fulfillment of their beautiful dreams.

And they are as beautiful as is the beauty of Khairpur.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Simple solutions with "Simplicity"

We often hear “old is gold”. While going back into past, people always consider past time memorable in their life. They have many reasons in thoughts and perceptions to value past like pure and easily available food, fresh air, cool temperature etc. Among a wide range of songs collection, listening suddenly a song of 60s (mostly in case of the sub continent) someone might have said “aa ha”, thinking it evergreen song. Often people of past are considered simple with easy go life, happily living and helping each other, having less kind of diseases or often astonishing on hearing a new kind of disease with the first comment like “we never heard about this one before”.

In the present life of complexity around the advent of science’ wisdom, we can find people with simple life. For me, if the past was better, main reason behind it was the choice of “simplicity”. Very clear rule- live simply live easily… and this rule applied in the past, not only on materials but also on thoughts. People loved and cared for each other in our past always welcomed a life of happiness around themselves. They cared for nature; in return, nature was taking care of them. The way we live today, especially in cities, is the life of more challenging and less comfort, despite of what science has given to us in recent decades.

The same is the case for our environment. I simply don’t remember when I see butterflies last time. Traveling daily now a days from my home in Mansehra to my office in Abbottabad, looking at the labors busy on Karakurum highway, cutting down trees, mountains and the agricultural land along side the road I often think why we are widening this highway. To overcome the problem of increasing traffic jams? Are we really going to do this? It is not only the population bomb but also the wish to have own cars and move around. May be we don’t feel the need of widening roads, not by managing population only but to control vehicles growth, being unnecessarily increasing in everyday life.

People in cities enjoy sitting in cool AC offices and buildings, often never think about how hot it becomes for those who have to walk on the roads surrounded by such high buildings. Did we ever image a life without ACs now or it has now become impossible- credit goes to global warming- perhaps the man behind this warming deserve the credit. Certainly yes…

We can make our life happy. And the simple rule is simplicity! Turning off TV switch completely, rather than putting it on standby- otherwise still wasting 90% of the energy for the next month electricity bill. TV sets in each room would further decrease the chances a family can rejoice by having time together, instead of those having just one set at home for everyone. Often people living in villages grow vegetables near their homes and, if having no guests around, would happily love to cook self-grown food without any luxury arrangements. Such families migrating to cities or those already living there would rarely grow such food. In cities, they hardly get a space to grow (no water or to be honest no time in a machinic life).

Thoughts are powerful factors behind simplicity in life. Sometime status symbol force people to buy a car and travel around- to office… to shopping in evening… or a long drive. I loved seeing people in Bangkok traveling in trains over the busy and crowded roads. But I love more the life in my village people and friends either walking to shop daily or travel to other villages, all going together having a local transport. May be people argue with the advancement of science and facilities in making life easy but may not be able to see the kind of satisfaction around families and specially a sound sleep at night in village. Science found solutions of many complex diseases, but only rich get the benefits from this advancement. Poor always suffer… even they suffer from the consequences of degraded environment with the hands of rich ones…

More income brings more wishes. Simplicity is what we can find in sufficient income rather than more income. Sufficient income means a fair circulation of wealth among all, where poor are also able to meet their needs and this is what religion also emphasize as a right of all and the poor. Simple lives mean no wish for extra profit where care goes directly to both humans and the environment we live in. A green business may thus give a simple life, not although a big profit but a sufficient income which would care for both humans and our nature.

Water is a simple example. It is pure and simple in nature. The only way we make it polluted or wasted is bringing complexity around the environment. People construct buildings, establish factories, dispose of chemicals and garbage into rivers… People do this for more gains but this all goes against the simplicity of nature and limit the gains of many poor which they can secure in their hard lives. People waste water in many ways, from houses to businesses- using shower s, keeping tap open while brushing teeth, washing cars in showrooms, using huge water in construction, crops/livestock production… Simple life has lots of solution where we can protect water for our self and for everyone. Just reducing one time meat dish from our weekly diets can be of significant change.

Simplicity come with the concepts of reduce, reuse and recycle. Having such habits in our daily life can really make a difference. We can limit our needs and our expenses if we can reduce the quantity of commodities that we simply don’t need. We can avoid plastic bottles and use traditional glasses (often very stylish) for drinking water. In both cases, need is to drink a clean water which is must for survival, not to show others! There are lots of items at our home that we can utilize for daily important needs, instead of throwing them out in streets. Choices are there in life and work- using home utensils in picnic rather than the plastic ones, planting a tree, make a home garden, keep aside curtains from window in day time to use natural light in room instead of light bulb, taking prints on both sides of paper, returning used batteries/electric equipments for recycling, before going to buy a new one…

Or simply having a nice walk for few minutes instead of using a personal car can bring beauty in life.

Simple solutions with simplicity…

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spending holidays in educating people on Climate Change

I was on my two weeks long holidays from office, however I decided not to spend my free days in traveling around or resting at home. My choice was to go in field, meet local farmers, communities and NGOs professionals to spread the word on Climate Change. Perhaps the best choice I could made in sharing information on science of climate change, a global perspective and political landscape which local communities in Pakistan are often unaware of. In every that second of my voluntary effort, I felt a sense of satisfaction whenever I realized I was able to make people aware on the information which they didn't know before such as increased concentration of greenhouses gases in atmosphere more than the natural requirement, future risks of water scarcity in Pakistan, difference among developed and developing countries in international debate and up to date science of climate change, which local people rarely able to know.


Inviting our campaign' volunteers from Punjab and KPK provinces to plan activities for 2011



In Balakot- a

famous tourist spot but highly vulnerable to flash floods

and landslides:

"Presentation to local farmers community on Science of Climate Change and Pakistan'Perspective"









In Mansehra- a hub of NGOs during their 2005 earthquake response

"Training of NGOs professional on Climate Change and

Public Narrative Skills"









In Peshawar- participants from the Tribal Areas, Peshawar

and other districts worst impacted by war on terror and Pakistan flood 2010
"Presentation on Climate Change and Possible Solution"